Never mind that the national average for a gallon of regular is $1.86 higher than it was in July 2021.
A recent Longwoods International Travel Sentiment study has two-thirds of American drivers saying that higher gas prices would factor into their decision about traveling the next six months. But only 6 percent of those surveyed said they are actually canceling trips because of it.
So, what gives?
It could be that Americans, driven by pent-up demand for post-pandemic travel, are just willing to dig deeper into their funds to keep the tank filled.
It could it be that they are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles and thus buying fewer gallons of gas to begin with.
It could be that the “record-high price of gas” we keep hearing about is not actually a record high.
It could be all the above.
To some extent, consumers make choices as to how much gasoline they buy. Consider the woman in Reno, Nev., who worried on CNN that high gas prices might deprive her 3-year-old daughter of a visit with family.
“There’s so much my daughter has lost out on,” she said, referring to the COVID-19 shutdowns. “And there’s a feeling again as a parent that I’m going to have to be limited about what I can offer.”
It’s true that pump prices in Nevada are among the highest, but we do decide how far to live from family.
The Reno woman has a car, unlike the very poor, and looked solidly middle-class. She ought to know that cheap gas is not an entitlement. And living far from family is ultimately her decision.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, many workers moved away from metro areas for bigger houses and more land. Their choice.
If that meant they had to drive more, well, that belonged in their calculations.
For many, the ability to work from home saved on commuting costs. But also for many, there was the strong possibility that they may have to return to an office. And it’s never wise to assume that those travel expenses won’t go up at times.
We should not underestimate the power of more fuel-efficient vehicles to relieve “pain at the pump.” Mileage has been improving for decades, with electric vehicles an absolute game-changer.
Ford’s current high-class problem is keeping up with calls for its electric vehicles, particularly the Mustang Mach-E EV and the electric version of its F-series trucks.
A sophisticated analysis of today’s gas prices would note that the national average for a gallon of regular now stands at about $5.01. Adjusted for inflation, the price for that gallon in 2008 (then $4.11) would have been $5.37.
Demand for gasoline keeps rising. But so apparently is demand for space on the roads.
Moan about high gas prices, if you must. The traffic doesn’t seem to have noticed.